I Love a Good Yarn

Yarns, stories, and sometimes stories about yarn


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Goodreads book review: The Snow Child

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Positives about the book first: Some of the imagery in describing the Alaskan wilderness was very nice. I find myself drawn to stories where the setting plays a big role in the characters’ lives. And I’m glad there was a not some tacked-on, not-really-fitting-with-the-rest-of-the-story, happy ending. The melancholy mood the book ended with was pretty consistent with the mood throughout the story.

But other than that, I wasn’t really grabbed by this book. After a few chapters, the landscape descriptions became a bit repetitive and lost their luster. It would also have been nice to know more of the main characters’ lives before making the move to their homestead in Alaska. The loss of the baby was given as the main reason for their making such a huge leap, but that was a bit thin for me as a premise. I felt there needed to be more flashbacks to how they came to the decision to make the move and what incentives made them choose such a formidable undertaking. Because Alaska was a very necessary element in the plot, I wanted to find out more about why they went there and not somewhere else – California, the Great Plains, or another almost equally large leap from their home in Pennsylvania.

The story also wasn’t original, as it was based on a children’s folklore tale. I don’t feel enough was done with the story to give it its own character and set it apart from its source. And though the back cover provided hints that the book would be “bewitching,” “captivating,” and “spellbinding,” I found it dragged in places and was a bit too predictable.

There was also a lack of nuance to the characters. Once they were introduced and we learned what they looked like and what their main drivers were, they came across as a bit one-dimensional. To be sure, they were consistent in their words and actions, which is a good thing. Too often I read stories where the characters suddenly come out with behaviors that seem so contradictory to what the author had been trying to create for them, that it’s too jarring and I can’t remain invested in the book. For example, the character of Esther was probably introduced as a light-hearted foil to the otherwise gloomy atmosphere, but her blustery, no-nonsense, unflappable presence became kind of cartoonish.

So, if stories with a hint of a magical element are your thing, this may be a good read for you. It’s a nice story that can be put down and picked back up without losing the thread. But I think it was just that characteristic that left me a little flat.

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Thursday threads

I was going to do separate WIP Wednesday and FO Friday posts, but instead I’m globbing them together in a single “Thursday threads.” It’s almost summer, and we all have things we’d rather be doing than writing/reading blog posts, right?

The Felicity top is finished, and the fit is really nice.

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This is even without blocking. Because of the large eyelets, I have to wear something underneath, but I knew that going into the project. And I loved the construction. The lower bodice is knit so that cast-on and bind-off edges are seamed to make a tube. Stitches are then picked up from the top of the tube and worked in the round, adding little four-row sleeve extensions. The decreases worked on the upper bodice form a really flattering neckline. I’m often confounded by bottom-up sweaters in trying to get the length right, and with top-down sweaters in trying to get the waistline fitted properly. This construction takes so much of the guesswork out, as you just have to use your gauge to determine how long the lower bodice needs to be and cast on the appropriate number of stitches, and then work up from there until the desired height of the neckline is achieved. And the addition of the eyelets makes a very pretty and feminine fabric. I will definitely use this approach to do some long-sleeve sweaters in heavier weight yarns for the fall/winter.

The WIP is another project from my The Perfect Blend yarn-of-the-month club, the My Cup of Tea Socks.

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The yarn is by Whole Knit ‘n’ Caboodle (access to the yarn selection is only available to wholesalers, unfortunately), which is based in Delmar, NY. The colorway is tea leaves, and it is the most nature-inspired green I think I’ve ever seen. It is almost the exact hue of my lawn after a gentle rain (I know this, because I’m looking out my window now after a brief rain shower!). Verdant is what I’d call it. And it’s very nice to work with, even on size one DP needles.

I love making socks, but I think I’ve I’ve only made six pairs in the 17 or so years I’ve been knitting, so it was high time to make more. And I’ve only made one pair for myself – the very first pair, which is a bit misshapen and amateurish, but I love them anyway. But I’m so excited to expand my sock collection this summer, as they make for the perfect warm weather project.

 


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Flurry of finished objects – part three (the final)

This one deserved its very own post. The Swirl sweater is done! I finished it about a month ago after taking a break from it for about a month. So, three months of my life invested in this project, and I am thrilled with the results.

It started off as a huge oval …

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… that eventually sprouted wings …

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… and required hours of finishing time to weave in all those blasted tails. But the end result is just gorgeous. The only issue is that the sleeves are much too long (something other Ravelers noted, but I hadn’t taken in until after the damage was done), but I will most likely sew a hem on them to keep them in place when tucked under.

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This sweater has such a unique structure, I really had no idea how it would turn out until the final seam was sewn and I tried it on. I was convinced it would morph into some misshapen blob, and I’d have sunk a substantial amount of money into something unwearable. But it surprised me in the end, and I’m actually considering making another one … though maybe not until winter 2018/2019.

And I found the perfect (not yet photographed) pin when shopping at Espace Tricot in Montreal to close the front and really show off those lapel tassels.

After the investment of time and money for the Swirl – I honestly was shocked at how much yarn was needed on a project of this size – I’m glad to be tackling much smaller projects this summer. My Felicity top is almost done after just over a week of knitting. That’s the kind of (as close to) instant gratification I need after turning out something of this magnitude.

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A flurry of finished objects – part two

The next two FOs are both Andrea Mowry designs. The first is the Om Shawl, a versatile little number that’s sure to get lots of use once the weather turns chill again this fall. It’s a rectangular shawl with buttons along the bottom and about half way up one side that allow for a wide variety of configurations.

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I started it last November but had to put it aside both for Christmas knitting and my Swirl sweater knit-along that started in January. So, I’m sure pleased to have finally gotten this one from WIP to FO status. I also enjoyed trying my luck with two-handed stranded knitting in the blended color sections. It’s a fun technique and one that I’m really keen to get more practice on.

Next is another shawl, the now ubiquitous Find Your Fade. It’s a wildly popular pattern, and for good reason. It’s flexible enough to have some fun, with the eyelet and color melting sections making things interesting just when you might be getting a little bored with the garter stitch sections.

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They’re so colorful, you can really wear these shawls with just about anything.

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And, as with the Om Shawl, the Find Your Fade can be a shawl, a scarf, a throw – it’s up to you how you want to use it.

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The next and final installment of “Flurry of finished objects” – the Swirl sweater!


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A flurry of finished objects – part one

Over the last month, while I haven’t been writing blog posts at all, I’ve divided my time between finishing my WIPs and fretting over my 17-year-old cat, whose health is declining. She’s never been a very nice kitty, swatting and snarling at every other cat that’s ever shared our home. But she’s been mine for about 14 years, and she does have the loudest motorboat purr I’ve ever heard, so I’m still going to be very sad when she goes.

But, the month was super productive on the knitting front. The first two FOs I’d like to share use yarn and designs by Hudson Valley area dyers/designers. These yarns and patterns came to me as part of my yarn-of-the-month subscription, courtesy of The Perfect Blend yarn and tea shop in Saugerties, NY. Each installment has a single skein of hand-dyed yarn, a suggested pattern, and a little goodie, such as stitch markers, a project bag, wool wash, or some such treat. The colors used by the dyers are all inspired by some aspect of the Hudson Valley.

The first project was a ribble cowl using a soft and lush alpaca/silk blend.

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It was supplied by Nest Creative Keepsakes, based in Woodstock, NY. It was really nice to work with, and the colors were wonderfully bold. The inspiration for the colors is the Ashokan reservior (image from Wikipedia):

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Though the cowl was a Mother’s Day gift for my mom, I had to try it on to be sure it was indeed the right gift for such an awesome mom. It fit the bill.

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FO #2 from my yarn-of-the-month stash is the Main Street Shawl by Toby Roxane Designs. The yarn is Chandelier and the colorway is Main Street, which to me looks like copper when it oxidizes, but there’s still a bit of copper peeking through here and there.

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The color inspiration is Main Street in Saugerties, NY (image from the Hudson Valley Sojourner):

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A great combination of old and new, downtown Saugerties offers independent bookstores, bakeries and eateries, antique stores, unique gift shops, one of the best grandma slices you’ll ever find, and of course, my LYS. And thanks to that LYS, I now have this gorgeous shawl.

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Check out the other patterns available in the Toby Roxane Designs Ravelry store. I’m sure I’ll be pulling some of those lacy shawl patterns to use with the yarns purchased in Montreal.

The next “Flurry of FOs” installment – two Andrea Mowry designs.


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Traveling knitter: J’adore Montreal

I’ve been waiting for a nice sunny day so as to get some bright shots of the lovely yarn I purchased on my Montreal trip last weekend, but April showers have finally gripped the Hudson Valley, and the forecast for the coming week is gloomy indeed, so I’ll just have to settle for rainy day yarn pics.

Luckily we did have some sunny weather while in Quebec, and my family and I made the most of it, strolling the gorgeous Jardin Botanique, taking in the lilacs and ancient bonzai trees:

eating our way through the city, including a stop for the most delicious vegetarian poutine around at the cozy and friendly Comptoir 21:

and of course shopping, starting with my favorite second-hand store ever, Eva B:

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and rounding it off with some gorgeous yarn purchases from two charming stores.

The first was a recommendation from a member of my Swirl knit-along group. At Espace Tricot, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful, and the shop is well-organized and inviting. In the back, a large table was chock-a-block full of lively knitters, working and chatting away. The group lent further positive energy to an already great vibe in the shop. Several staff members offered some background on the various yarns they stock, specifically the more locally made fibers, which was my main interest. What was even more amazing is that they actually recommended I visit another yarn shop in a different neighborhood of Montreal. This kind of cordiality and community is what I’ve come to expect from knitters, but it’s still always a joy to encounter it in such abundance as I did in Montreal. My purchases at Espace Tricot included the yarns below: a set of grey/black shades from SweetGeorgia Yarns (based in Vancouver) for a project I have in mind for a friend, and the earth-tone “stone” colorway from Tanis Fiber Arts (Montreal), which is going to become a lovely airy shawl for me some day (the merino, silk, cashmere blend is heavenly!).

My other purchase from Espace Tricot was a sweater pin for my now-completed Swirl. Finished objects (5 of them!) will be shared in posts later this week and weekend.

The shop recommended by the nice folks at Espace Tricot was La Maison Tricotée. Both shops are easily accessible by public transport – the former by Metro and either bus or walk along Monkland Avenue in the Monkland Village neighborhood, the latter just around the corner from the Laurier Metro station in the Plateau/Mont Royal section (and on the same road as another outpost of Comptoir 21!).

As with Espace Tricot, La Maison Tricotée’s staff was super helpful, knowledgable and welcoming. Both also accommodated my complete lack of French language skills. Though I do dream of someday mastering Québécois French, I’ve not put in the time needed to even get the basics down yet. So, the store tour, the helpful hints, and cashing out were all in English, and delivered with such warmth, I had a hard time pulling myself away. My rather colorful purchases below are single skeins (shawls and socks!) of Riverside Studio in copper & zinc and iris superwash merino (Ottawa), Biscotte Yarns self-striping sock yarn in brown, lime green and beige (Quebec), Hand Maiden Mini Maiden wool and silk blend in the stunning pink, lilac and yellow hues (Nova Scotia), and the only non-Canadian purchase – because I couldn’t resist the bright yellow and speckles – Hedgehog Fibre’s sock yarn in the banana legs colorway (Ireland).

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I’m hoping this fall will bring yet another nice getaway with more new yarn stores to explore. The question now is just where to go!